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Virgin Media subscribers whose computers are part of a botnet can expect a letter warning them to tighten up their security, under a new initiative based on data collected by independent malware trackers.

The UK's third-largest ISP will match lists of compromised IP addresses collected by the Shadowserver Foundation, among others, to its customer records.

Those with infected machines will be encouraged to download free security software to remove the malware and protect their connection in future. Virgin Media says it expects to send out hundreds of letters per week initially, with plans to expand the campaign based on customer feedback.

The firm will also take the opportunity to plug its Digital Home Support service, a £6-per-month remote PC maintenance helpline, "for those who need a little bit more help". A quarter of callers have a malware infection, Virgin Media said.

The announcement today marks the second anti-malware initiative by a major UK ISP this summer. TalkTalk is preparing an optional service that will block infected webpages by controversially following all its customers around the web, creating lists of all the URLs they visit.

Virgin Media said it is exploring other customer security initiatives to follow its letter-writing campaign. ®

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